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A transparent change, but an important one
By Dave Winer on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 11:37 AM.

In journalism, politics and business they talk about transparency as a universal virtue. If you disclose your conflicts, or say where your money comes from, or deal with your users openly and fairly -- those are obvious good things.  permalink

Transparency is different in software. When systems change you want the changes to be without any apparent effects on users and developers. It's like transparency in recording music. I want all the highs and lows and in the right proportions. I want my software to keep working even if you just rocked the foundations. That's what we aspire to. We hope. :-) permalink

Anyway, today I made a big change that's virtually impossible to show you because it's so transparent. But I'll try to explain it anyway. permalink

When I write a blog post like the one you're reading now, I write it on a workstation computer. It could be my desktop in my apartment in Manhattan. Or on my laptop, or netbook. I write and save and revise and save, over and over, just as you would edit a word processing document on your desktop, with one important difference. The changed version of the document is saved to a content management system running on another computer, running in Rackspace's cloud. This saving process is done with XML-RPC, although it could just as easily be done with a REST interface or FTP. permalink

From there, the document is passed through the CMS, rendered and transferred to a server running in Amazon's cloud. That server is the machine called This is the machine your browser RSS aggregator talk to, to get the latest stuff from Dave. That transfer was made via FTP and the finished content is accessed via HTTP. permalink

That's the old flow. Here's the new one. permalink

A picture named cmsdiagram.jpg permalink

The workstation saves its document to a Dropbox folder. The CMS is watching that folder, sees something new, renders it, and drops it into another Dropbox folder. That folder is served by Apache on the machine running Everything is done using the file system. The software just got a whole lot simpler. And much better backed up. And more flexible, because different machines can easily play the needed roles, or the same content served through on one box could be served via on another.  permalink

In a sense the filesystem has been turned into a simple multi-machine networked queuing system. permalink

This is what I was trying to get working a few days ago. :-) permalink

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